I knew when I accepted a review copy of this novel that I wasn’t the ideal reader for it. Not because it’s a YA novel, but because it’s not the kind of YA novel I normally read (Fantasy Dystopian, . . .). Still I accepted it because I thought it deserved attention. Kate Scott has chosen a hairy topic, one that deserves more understanding and one she knows better than most.
The narrator of Counting to D is 15-year-old Sam who has just moved from San Diego to Portland with her architect mother. Leaving behind best friends is hard. In her case even more so than in the case of other people because she has a special bond with one of her friends, Arden. Arden isn’t only her best friend she’s the person who opens a door for Sam, which would normally stay closed – the door to books and reading. Since they were little Arden reads to Sam. Sam is dyslexic and at the age of 15 she still can’t read any better than a 7-year-old. But Sam is unusually intelligent, a math whiz with an audiographic memory. She can memorize every book that has been read to her and make the most stunning calculations in her head. Math is her joy and her refuge. Whenever things get emotionally stressing, Sam curls up inside of her head, counting and calculating. At times she’s suspected to be autistic.
In her old school Sam was seen as too clever and too dumb at the same time. Leaving San Diego and going to a new school could be her chance to start anew.
The story which follows is one of hope and encouragement. Sam makes new friends, falls in love for the first time, takes baby reading steps and overcomes prejudice and biased thinking.
While not entirely my cup of tea, I must say, this was a cute, warm book with endearing characters. I would highly recommend it to discussion groups, people who know someone who is dyslexic, parents with dyslexic kids, teachers and, thanks to a special font, it’s a great choice for dyslexic kids too.
The most amazing thing is certainly that Kate Scott is dyslexic herself and that she wrote a novel is a message of hope for all the kids who try to overcome their illiteracy. I have never met a dyslexic person, so it was interesting to read about this. It’s a sad fact that even nowadays once students are labelled “special ed”, many of their co-students will think of them as dumb.
I have no idea how often dyslexic kids show the traits Samantha shows in this book. She’s a genius, only one that cannot read.
Counting to D, which will come out in February, is a cute and important book with a hopeful message.